Dream Home or Perfect Location?

Who gets Preservation magazine and immediately flips to the Historic Houses for Sale section? Admit it, some of you do it. It’s not that the magazine isn’t fantastic; it’s just the draw of beautiful houses available to buy (you know, theoretically). It’s a similar thrill when perusing the Preservation North Carolina website, where all of the houses you could get for a song, as long as you rehabilitate or restore the building. Just imagine owning a beautiful house with so much potential hidden, waiting to be uncovered and cared for and loved. Or how about one of the immaculate properties featured in the magazine? We all love to imagine our dream home, right? Of course.

As I drive through Vermont and browse real estate listings for the fun of it, it leads me to ask myself: would I prefer the perfect house or the perfect location? What goes in your perfect location category? What about under the dream home category? Big house, small house, two stories, porches, floor to ceiling windows, acres and acres of property, mountain views, walking distance to the center of town, on the water, historic windows, fixer-upper, move-right-in, built in bookshelves, claw foot tub… and so on. What will you compromise on? What must be in any house you buy? For me, my house must have a front porch, lots of light, and a bathroom with a window. The perfect house: craftsman or Tudor style. The perfect location: walking distance to a small, active, viable downtown. Ah, we can dream.

So, please, write about your dream house and location!!

Preservation Photos #38

Driving through the Lake Champlain Valley on Route 17 West in Vermont; the scenery is gorgeous. The landscape, the vistas, the small towns, the big sky, the Adirondack Mountains… it makes me love my long to drive to work! Our roadside views are just as important as our building views – what’s your favorite? Send a picture.

More of Carl’s

It’s summer; it’s hot, raining, humid, sunny, cloudy — basically everything in the Lake Champlain Valley. We even had an earthquake here (and it’s all the radio hosts can talk about). I digress. Anyway, even with the crazy weather patterns passing over the lake, it is undeniably summer in Vermont. Traveling for work on country roads, I often pass farm stands and ice cream stands and it makes me want ice cream, of course. So, I thought I’d share some more photos of the famous Carl’s Ice Cream in Fredericksburg, VA (which was featured for Preservation Photos #37).  After all, what is more summery than a roadside ice cream stand on a hot day? Enjoy!

Quite the popular spot on Princess Anne Street in Fredericksburg.

Front elevation -- note the flamingos and friends.

I have a compulsive urge to photograph roadside stands.

Choose your ice cream!

The ice cream cone glows neon at night.

Ice cream machines!

Or, have a milkshake.

Preservation Photos #37

Happy Summer!! This is the famous Carl’s Ice Cream (c 1947)  in Fredericksburg, VA. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Read the nomination here.

Gold in Them Thar Hills: Part Four

SIA 2010 Overview. Part One. Part Two. Part Three.

The SIA tour led our group to the Mollie Kathleen Mine, the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad, and Victor, Colorado. Our last stop of the day was a part of the Cripple Creek & Victor Mine: American Eagles Scenic Overlook. It is an 1895 mine complex with a shifter’s office, a superintendent’s house, a blacksmith shop, and the headframe and hoist from the mine. The buildings are weathering away, in that picturesque sort of way. It provides an opportunity for visitors to see (a sort of) ghost town. It overlooks the continental divide, the wind blows strong, and the view is breathtaking.

The trail to the overlook is a long stairway.

From the overlook. The foreground is the currently operating open pit Anglo Ashanti mine.

Miles upon miles beyond the mine.

The superintendent's house.

Looking inside the superintendent's house.

Another view of the house.

Floorboards of the shifter's house.

Floorboards of the shifter's house.

Time at work.

As you can tell by the pictures, I spent most of my time around the buildings, as a true building lover would, but the industrial archaeologists, true to themselves, spent most of their time around the mine structures. Thus, I cannot explain much about the mine itself. This was the case for much of the day, which amused me.  However, we all gazed across the continental divide. How beautiful. Another must see spot.

Gold in Them Thar Hills: Part Three

SIA 2010 Overview. Part One. Part Two.

In order to not overwhelm one post with images, there will be three (or four) posts about Gold in Them Thar Hills.

So far our tour consisted of the Mollie Kathleen Mine and the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. The giant tour bus ventured on windy Colorado roads to Victor, CO. Victor felt more authentic than Cripple Creek; with ghost signs, tired buildings, and that western feeling (without the Hollywood effect). In Victor we all ate lunch in the park and had some time to wander around the unique & interesting Victor Lowell Thomas Museum. The museum featured local history exhibits, mining history exhibits, and furnished rooms upstairs. Our visit was short, and I would have liked more time to wander around Victor.

Ah, I loved Victor, CO.

Neat signs and buildings on the small business strip.

Victor's streetscape.

Merchant's Cafe. Great coffee, great owner with entertaining stories, great atmosphere. It totally made my day. Go there and say hi to Alex, the baker in the back. In the 1970s, Alex owned an organic bakery in Putney, VT. What a small world! Visit the website.

The tour continued just outside of Victor, but that’s an entirely different set of photographs.One more from Victor:

Another shot in Victor; the town could use a spruce (but it's still lovely!)

Gold in Them Thar Hills: Part Two

SIA 2010 Overview. Part One.

In order to not overwhelm one post with images, there will be three (or four) posts about Gold in Them Thar Hills.

After leaving the Mollie Kathleen Mine, our tour group headed to the Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train departed from a historic depot for a four mile round trip to the ghost town of Anaconda, CO. Along the way the train stopped to allow us to gaze at the mountain scenery and experience Echo Valley. Enjoy this flood of images!

Historic depot at the Cripple Creek & Victor Railroad, the former depot of Anaconda.

Leaving Cripple Creek.

Such fun on the steam engine!

View from the train.

Just how many miles is that? Echo Valley.

Ghost town across the way!

The blacksmith shop in Anaconda; it is one of the few buildings that survived a fire.

Highway 67.

On our way back to Cripple Creek.

A water tank next to the train. The steam engine needed a water source!

A better view.

I thoroughly enjoyed this forty minute train ride; what perfect weather!

Newsletter Contributions: Second Call

first call:

This issue’s theme is Preservation Now. What is most important to you, the preservationist, right now? What are you studying? What are your work projects? What are related current events and trends that we should be considering in the preservation field?

Second call:

Reminder to all: start thinking about contributions for the next issue of the Preservation in Pink newsletter! Send in your articles, comments, photographs, drawings, suggestions by the end of June. If you have an idea you want to run by me, please do. If you haven’t contributed before but are interested in it, you are encouraged to contribute! Tell your friends, colleagues, etc.

Thank you!

Preservation Photos #36

A view that not many people have seen in the last eight decades; I took this picture sitting on the porch at the tavern at Chimney Point Historic Site in Addison, VT. The old Lake Champlain Bridge would have traveled straight through this picture, and the new one will do the same. The view without the bridge is amazing and such an incredible historic scene.

Loving Land from the Air

Flying over the USA heartland is always my favorite flight route. The excitement of gazing out the window distracts me from the long flight, the uncomfortable seats, and the lack of a snack. Above the clouds, the sun is so bright and beautiful; it’s a world you can only see by flying. Once the plane dips below the clouds back to earth the country appears. From 30,000+ feet above the earth, the grid and squares of the land, from the Public Land Survey, are so clear and so telling. The land was divided into townships of 36 square miles and then 1 mile squares, all based on meridians and parallels. Within each square, the shades of brown and green indicate different crops and fields and uses. Roads appears white; rivers appear bluish-brown. Towns are spaced a few miles apart, or so it seems from up so high. The land appears to pass in slow motion until another plane jets in the opposite direction, defining its 100s of miles per hour. Much of this part of the country is the perfect grid, of course with some exception and some roads that come to a T rather than a cross. Occasionally the plane will fly along an interstate, foretold by its characteristic wide lanes and clover leaf interchanges. Factories and their blowing smoke stacks and nearby reservoirs are found now and again among the farmland.

If only the plane would scroll through the names of the towns and states as we pass. Flying from DC to Denver, I imagined the route to be Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and finally Colorado, but I can’t be sure. Regardless of the state, the towns are mostly gridded just like the survey of the land. They appear as clusters of buildings with main roads through the center from one or two points, sometimes with a highway and bypass. It fits with the land. What is always striking is the blatant shape of the new construction or sprawl in its large scale. Obviously evident from the ground by its massive, identical white vinyl houses, empty treeless yards, the developments also appear so different from the air, just as they do on the ground.

Planners, designers, developers, and others responsible may be attempting to incorporate curvilinear streets and other traditional, successful community plans, but from the air they appear as squished centipedes; their bodies the bending streets and their legs the smaller dead end side streets. Perhaps slightly more interesting than a grid, the layout will not fool me. I know these streets are dead ends and cul-de-sacs off a single main thoroughfare, maybe with sidewalks, probably with front facing garages, characteristic of the auto centric development. They might make more sense if streets met each other, enhancing connectivity, not solitude. I know that they aren’t truly walkable because you can’t walk anywhere; you always have to get in your car. Though nearby, these houses appear so isolated from the nearby towns, in such contrast from the towns that appear harmonious, organic, and in sync with themselves.

Of course, these thoughts come from my judgmental eye and my disdain for McMansion auto-centric, cookie-cutter developments in an age when we know what works and what has failed in communities. Why don’t we follow our own advice? The root of the evil is likely lazy and careless development planning, one that cannot be bothered to study actual successful communities rather than theory and nice architectural renderings.

I suppose, however you feel about the landscape from the air, the lesson is in reading the landscape. It’s a story right in front of your eyes about how the way we live is shaped by our land. Highways, byways, gridded towns, dirt roads, farmland, factories, flood plains, new construction, and sprawl – it is all in place to read and to interpret.

With the glamour of airline travel a bygone day, the story of the land is the beauty of flying cross country.